Henry Hudson is a British artist who makes paintings, sculpture, etchings and performance based work. For the past 10 years, Hudson’s medium of choice has primarily been plasticine. A graduate of Central St. Martins, the London based artist’s practice is best known for his radical use of plasticine as his chosen medium. Hudson originally started using plasticine when he discovered it was an inexpensive way of achieving the thick impasto surfaces of the traditional school of oil painting he was exploring, inspired by the influences of Van Gogh and Kiefer.
As he developed his practise, he soon discovered the theatrical and expressive qualities peculiar to the medium, which offered him an innovative and exciting way to develop his painterly technique, focus on materiality, and his passion for gestural expression. The plasticine is heated, for malleability, then mixed and empastoed thickly on board in several layers of colour. Using dentist tools, biros, and anything that does the job he then etches, sculpts and textures the plasticine.
Hudson’s work cover a wide range of themes, from exploring social stereotypes to satirising the madness of contemporary life. His narrative scenes in the series ‘The Rise and Fall of young Sen’, inspired by Hogarth, are often theatrical and at first glance appear playful. Yet this humour masks a darker picture which reveals a grotesque and depraved version of humanity.
In his series of Jungle paintings, referencing artists such as Henri Rousseau and Hieronymus Bosch, Hudson has created a heightened world of colour and form. Here we see ‘plasticine pumped on steroids’ and are asked to explore an imaginary prehistoric world where nature has taken over and humans are yet to evolve. These works command attention with their almost impossible level of intricate detail, technique and colour.
Hudson is now pushing the medium even further with his new series of Snowscape works, mixing plasticine with pigment, encaustic paints, plaster and waxes to explore an increasingly expressive and gestural approach to his painting. Dripping, pouring, scraping and plastering, Hudson’s new series marks an important development in his practise as he combines his knowledge of materials with performance to create works that are looser, full of movement and charged with a physical and frenetic energy. These works sit alongside a bespoke scagliola floor installation – an entirely innovative and contemporary exploration of a traditional craft – to create a truly immersive experience that hurls the viewer into a world of visceral textures, movement and materiality.
The art critic Richard Dorment, described Hudson as “an astonishing young painter” and the writer Laura K. Jones said “There’s an odd, almost perverse lushness to what inhabits Hudson’s canvases that make then look more like oil paintings than oil paintings themselves.” According to the artist Marc Quinn, “Hudson aligns himself with an irreverent and eccentric British tradition in art that is really the saviour of it… it’s a lineage of non-conformity yet quintessentially Britishness that is unique… Hudson has reinvented this tradition in his visual, trembling, vibrating, sculpted paintings.”